Do you see an old lady or the young lady?

This week a friend invited me to a “Case Study Writing workshop” and all participants were instructed to arrive with a real case.   I opted to tell my own story,  and as I was retelling it I came to fully understand its powerful message.   That is why I would like to share it with you today.

“On the day before my 60th birthday I was actually on leave but I had come to work for a CCMA mediation with my staff.  The staff put on the table that they were not prepared to negotiate, I must go or they would strike.  The mediator said if that was the case, there was nothing she could offer, and she left with an aside that she did not envy me.  I immediately called a meeting with the accountant who had appointed me and to cut a long story short I cleared my office and walked out.

Why am I telling you this?  It is because I had entered this job planning to hold the post till I was 65 and then I was going to retire and stop working.  So, after my birthday celebrations, I started posting my CV everywhere, but as job opportunities trickled my way I wasn’t so sure that was what I truly wanted.

I remember the afternoon clearly.  I was sitting on the couch working through an exercise as part of the coaching course I was doing as a “filler”, and it suddenly dawned on me that I was already retired and embarking on an Encore career.  Clang, the penny dropped.

What I did was change the way I was perceiving my situation.  Nothing in my situation had changed, but once I accepted that I was retired and planning to work part-time to supplement retirement income,  the doors started to open in my mind and I was able to get a much clearer view of where I could go.”

This is the essence of what I do for people in retirement coaching.  I allow my clients to unpack their options and to look at retirement differently.  Retirement is not about becoming old and frail, and it is not about stopping dead in your tracks and going on an eternal holiday.

The point of my story was that my blinkered vision was tied to my belief that I must work full time till  65, and this was in essence narrowing my opportunities as jobs for 60-year-olds are scarce.  Until then I had seen the coaching course as biding my time till I found employment.  20 tough years of entrepreneurship and 2,5 years running a tricky, toxic non-profit had left me tired,  and reluctant to start yet another business.  But until this moment the word retirement had not entered my vocabulary because I still saw it as the end of the road.

But, accepting that I was already retired and now able to schedule my workload according to my current needs, opened a myriad of possibilities.  Somehow, “Not Working” never entered my mind.  But it was the idea of tailoring my hours of work to the amount of money I needed to supplement my retirement income, that truly liberated me.

How about you?  If you are struggling with this concept, why not contact me and we can discuss some of your possibilities.

Best wishes